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Ruth Kuefler

iSee, iFix, iConquer

May 26, 2008 at 4:21 AM

Well, my bunny opera has had its final performance (at least for now) and overall, I'm satisfied with how it went. Sifting through the takes has been kind of a tough process, since there are inconsistencies in each, and it's hard for me to weigh the differences. Do I discard the one with the flubbed cadence, or the one with the messier cadenza? In the end it's kind of like comparing apples and oranges. I posted what seems like the best take on YouTube, so feel free to send comments or criticisms my way. :)

I'm glad to have the Mozart recording over with, but the even more glad because the experience has shown me that I need to video-record myself more often. When I watched the Mozart video, I was pleasantly surprised by some aspects, but pretty disappointed by others. For example, the cadenza is supposed to be one of the most brilliant and exciting parts of the concerto, but in hindsight, I find it quite boring actually. This frustrates me more than the flubbed notes and intonation issues. I was well aware of those at the time. But I didn't fully realize about the cadenza until I put myself in the audience's perspective. I'm sure I could have changed things to make it much more exciting and unique. I have a tendency to be reserved and too meticulous, and it sometimes holds me back musically.

Ever since I got my Macbook (which has a built-in camera) I've wondered vaguely if I can record video with it. After some Google research, I discovered that yes, it is possible, and in fact, is extremely simple (even for someone like me who is hopeless where technology is concerned). All I have to do is open iMovie, click the little camera icon, and the iSight camera produces a pop-out window where I can record video instantly. The audio isn't that fantastic, but it is definitely good enough for my purposes.

I'm so excited. I'm going to try and video-record myself at least once a day (on various repertoire) so I can observe my technique and musicality from an outside perspective. This should be especially helpful over the summer, as I take a break from lessons. I found that even recording tiny snippets is really helpul. I recorded a short passage from my Prokofiev today, and between each take, tried to fix one specific thing. After maybe 5-10 minutes, I had made noticeable improvements. I'm sure if I continue this process I'll make much more effective progress. iMovie even has a feature for saving files directly to YouTube, so I'll try and post some things online as I go so I can get outside feedback as well. Yay for technology being on my side this time! ;)

From Tara S.
Posted on May 26, 2008 at 3:11 PM
Ruth, wonderful video :)

I just got a MacBook as well and have played with iMovie. Just make sure you sound input settings are right, otherwise the sound ends up real tinny. You can do that in the sound preferences. The great thing about iMovie is that you can make some adjustments to the recording afterwards, too.

From Donna Clegg
Posted on May 26, 2008 at 4:39 PM
Loved your recording!
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on May 26, 2008 at 5:36 PM
Your performance was wonderful! I loved it.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on May 26, 2008 at 5:36 PM
I'm submitting a second comment because I don't want these comments here to take away from the overall impression that it was a wonderful performance. My comment above summarizes how I feel.

But I've also played this piece and so I wanted to try to analyze it from that perspective. The tempo was a little fast for my taste. It might be only that I couldn't play it that fast to save my life, but even in listening, some of it just went by before I really heard it, especially the piano string crossing sections--and those are so beautiful it's a shame for them to get lost.

Your left hand is amazing. But do you sometimes pull your fingers back too much? I'm asking because I seem to have this problem so I'm conscious of it: I'll play a fast passage and then pull my fingers back into the hand and then they won't be really poised and in position to play again when they're needed a measure or two later. There's a certain economy of movement that seems to be lacking. You only did this very occasionally, but I wondered if, especially at that speed, you'd be better off keeping your fingers closer to the string even when they're not playing? (This is more a question than a comment--as I said, I'm working on this issue for myself albeit in a more modest way and I'm wondering about others' thoughts).

I think you did a good job in playing the cadenza. If you were bored by it, maybe it's the cadenza and not you? While I was watching your recording, YouTube suggested some other performances of the same piece and I looked at a couple of those. Julia Fischer, for example, played a cadenza that I just thought was a better cadenza than the one you were playing. It was a little more exciting, sparkling, and, well, shorter. Yours might have just been a bit too long--not necessarily too careful or too meticulous or anything like that, just the wrong cadenza for you. How did you end up choosing that one?

From Natasha Marsalli
Posted on May 26, 2008 at 10:42 PM
I use my MacBook for the same reasons. I never thought that I would use the itty-bitty camera and the pinhole-sized speakers but lo and behold, I use them all the time. :)
From Kate L
Posted on May 26, 2008 at 10:50 PM
Beautiful recording Ruth! I read your blog with interest, as a formerly-homeschooled violinist as well.
From Ray Randall
Posted on May 27, 2008 at 3:22 AM
Very nicely done.. I liked your bow arm
a lot.
From Bart Meijer
Posted on May 27, 2008 at 6:02 AM
Your performance puts a smile to my face each time I listen to it. And I love that bow arm!
From Drew Lecher
Posted on May 27, 2008 at 9:15 AM

This is very fine, as is your cadenza — just remember the baby bunnies for the delicatimente in the Cadenza and throw a bit more flair in a few more spots.

Always remember the movement's character, i.e., Allegro, Adagio, etc. when playing a cadenza and vary and flex with that in mind.


From Anthony Barletta
Posted on May 29, 2008 at 1:29 AM
From Amy Glengary Yang
Posted on May 29, 2008 at 4:25 PM
Hi Ruth.

Your video was wonderful. You have such gorgeous left hand movement and a poised, elegant stage presence.

After reading your recent thread about your struggle to decide on your next concerto choice for auditions, I'm happy you went with the Prokofiev 2!! That's my very favorite concerto, with the Sibelius a close second. Please do follow up and post clips to YouTube as you progress.

You must be listening to a lot of different recordings of the Prokofiev 2 to prepare. Which do you prefer? I have five different recordings but now the only one I ever reach for is Tedi Papavrami’s recording. There is something about his style that I find so appealing: technical but still very lyrical. I vastly prefer the phrasing of his version over some of the recordings by much “bigger name” violinists. And I could never get into Heifetz’ version (from 1949 with Koussevitzky conducting the BSO). Although I appreciate it for historical value, The second movement is just played much, much too fast for my taste. Is that heretical to say on :-)

Good luck with finishing your Mozart recording and preparing for transfer auditions.



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